A Highland Tour: (5) Durness
The parish of Durness is one of my favourite destinations in Scotland. This would be a full day’s visit from Ullapool but again very much worth the while. The journey on the coastal road is worth the trip alone. One leaves Wester Ross and enters the county of Sutherland on this road and the scenery does take on a quite different aspect from the sights of the Assynt district around Ullapool. I believe the rock is called Pink Gneiss. Driving along through it does remind one slightly of being on the moon and let it be remembered that the area is officially classed as a word desert area.
A quick sight you may want to see is but a few miles up the road frmo Ullapool on the coastal road at Elphin. Standing alone to the right of the road are the Elphin Tearooms. There’s usually a coach party or two there – one of those places to ignore you may think. Look beyond that thought for a minute however if Golden Eagles interest you – you will almost certainly be guaranteed view of the lord of the skies above and beyond the tea room. They’re quite an awe-inspiring and majestic sight and one I always like to associate with the Highlands of Scotland. Along the road you’ll pass by pretty villages occasionally such as the Nordic-named Kyleskue with it’s proud new bridge. You may want to head straight to Durness however as there lays a wonderful visit ahead of you.
Sango Bay, Durness
The pictures above almost do Durness justice but not quite! Huge sheer cliffs, sea birds such as puffins and white sandy beaches complete a heavenly scene. Perhaps don’t look for a central village in Durness as there really isn’t one, just scattered homes and the odd businesses here and there in true parish style. A must see in Durness is Smoo Cave which I believe is the second largest in the UK. Walk inside it and explore or take one of the boat trips into the huge cavern.
A little-known fact about Durness is that John Lennon used to visit here regularly as a youngster as he had family there. I believe a cousin still stays there.
Before leaving the area might I suggest a rather unusual visit? Balnakeil Craft Village lies just west of Durness. It’s a World War II military encampment that is now used by various artists and craftsmen selling their wares. A very intriguing wander can be had around the little walk-in studios of this isolated community before heading back south to Ullapool.